We had one month to train for the Race from the time we were told we were selected to when we would leave for Los Angeles (orientation, meetings, bag checks, etc). That meant trying everything and anything we could to get familiar with various tasks and each other. Unlike other teams that would have years, if not lifetime relationships, we had only known each other and dated for slightly over a year.
We decided that every day we would train at least 30 minutes with our packs including weight. That meant at the gym on the treadmill or stair climber, or outside on the stairs, or on the beach. Some days we did interval runs and others was just traditional hiking. But in either case we got used to the weight, to the fit and to the fatigue of a weighted down backpack.
Other activities that we did just one time (just for familiarity and in the event they could show up on the race) were kayaking, rock climbing, and rappelling.
Some activities we did repeatedly to get in better physical shape and learn the proper technique, swimming, cycling, pilates and plyometric cross training.
And then there were the things we did in mental preparation – learning how to tie knots, map reading, compass reading, mental games, puzzles and brain teasers. Oh, and we watched every single episode of seasons 12-20. Then we re-watched 20 again. We had a feeling that because of the success of season 20, our season might have similarities.
Finally, Abbie never had learned how to drive a stick shift. So for a few hours every week we borrowed her sister’s boyfriend’s car, a 1990 Toyota Camry, and she practiced on side streets and highways. This was by far the bane of our relationship for the better part of 4 weeks. Every fight or argument we had seemed to revolve around stop-starts and the concept of down shifting. This may have been our greatest preparation for the race – not the actual mastering of the stick shift, but how we learned to manage emotions, feelings and the right and wrong ways to